A moving commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, supported locally by Shetland Arts, has been voted the UK’s Best National Lottery funded Heritage project.
The event, in July of last year, saw participants dressed in First World War uniforms appear unexpectedly in locations around the country, including in Shetland.
Around 1,500 people participated in the street art performance, titled We’re here because we’re here, which marked the centenary of the start of the Battle of the Somme and remembered the 19,240 men who died on the first day of the battle.
Locally, men dressed as First World War soldiers could be seen in areas including the NorthLink ferry terminal, Anderson High School, Clickimin Broch, St Ninian’s Isle and Mareel.
Each participant represented an individual soldier who was killed on 1st July 1916 and if approached they would not speak but instead hand out cards with the name and regiment of the soldier they represented, and, where known, the age of the soldier when he died.
The work, was conceived and created by Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller and was partly inspired by tales of sightings during and after the First World War by people who believed they had seen a dead loved one.
The event, commissioned by 14-18-NOW, beat off competition from 1,300 entries to win a £5,000 cash prize and an iconic National Lottery Awards trophy.
Jenny Waldman, director at 14‐18 NOW, said: “National Lottery funding has helped us create extraordinary arts experiences that connect people with the First World War.
“We are delighted that ‘We’re here because we’re here’ has made such an impact on the public. Winning this National Lottery Award is tremendous recognition for our artists, supporters, funders and volunteers.”
Winners of the National Lottery Awards are decided by the public – 4192 people voted for ‘We’re here because we’re here’ to win Best Heritage Project.